It goes without saying that proper nourishment is required to lead a healthy life, yet so many people across the world are malnourished. This shouldn’t be the case, as there is more than enough food to feed everyone globally, but so many struggling individuals are forced to go without food.
The number of people suffering from malnutrition is only growing with the cost-of-living crisis, meaning more and more people are starting to feel the detrimental health effects of malnutrition. Some of the most vulnerable members of society are more likely to fall victim to malnutrition than others. For this reason, a number of charities distribute orphan & widow food parcels to feed women who have lost their husbands or children who have lost their parent(s). After all, the health effects can be absolutely debilitating, as detailed below.
Being without food is an intensely emotional experience. This is particularly true of parents who sometimes feel guilt and shame about not being able to feed their children. That said, emotional instability goes much further when it comes to malnutrition, as being hungry can affect your mental balance. Malnutrition can lead to several emotional irregularities, including anxiety, sadness, rigidity, irritability, and depression. Similarly, those who also suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder might also experience these symptoms on another level.
Quite simply, not having enough food is incredibly stressful. This is especially true for parents who have the responsibility of not only feeding themselves but their children, too. Not only is the idea of limited food stressful, but hunger actually affects people mentally, resulting in a lack of focus, memory, and concentration. From this, it becomes very easy for stress to take hold. As a result, those who are malnourished can sometimes exhibit symptoms that are linked to ADHD, but it’s important not to carry out diagnostic tests until the individual’s nutritional health has been evaluated.
One serious consequence of malnutrition is that it means you’re more prone to organ failure. As a result, those suffering from malnourishment may find themselves contracting urinary tract infections, sepsis, kidney failure, gastroenteritis, heart failure, pneumonia, anemia, liver failure, edema, and jaundice. Meanwhile, being obese (or over-nourished) increases your risk of diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Severe Weight Loss
Cachexia, or severe weight loss, is one of the effects of malnutrition, and this is one of the effects that’s most evident in a person’s appearance. From this, a person’s muscles may shrink, which also results in their bones protruding. As a result, those suffering from cachexia are more prone to pressure ulcers and hip fractures. Similarly, they may start to lose their hair and have their skin become dry and rough.
Reduced Wound Healing
Without the necessary nutrients required for proper functioning, your body won’t be able to heal itself properly. As a result, your body will take longer to heal, meaning you’re more prone to infections. Meanwhile, if you’re over-nourished, wound healing will also be affected, as nutrients, oxygen, and white blood cells struggle to get to where they need to be in the body.
Body Mass Changes
While everyone tends to lose lean body mass as they age, the same occurs with malnutrition. For instance, if you’re over-nourished, your internal organs are surrounded by excess fat. Similarly, if you’re under-nourished, this can lead to a weak immune system, resulting in an increased likelihood of infection and disease.
All in all, being malnourished goes way beyond just hunger. It’s a detriment to mental, physical, and emotional health alike. Food should be a human right, but the sad truth is that not everyone has ready access to it.